I believe that everyone — every single person — has at least one really really good book inside of them.
Not all of these great reads will get written.
Some will get put off and put off and put off and …
Writer’s block will claim others.
Lack of confidence will stop millions.
Or lack of time.
Which just makes me sad.
The great Maya Angelou famously said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Life is such a remarkable adventure. An unfolding unpredictable journey. Sometimes even downright legendary.
The best way that I have ever found to learn something is by hearing the story of another person.
So, this letter is dedicated to all of us who have at least one book inside, just waiting to be written. (And your book may not be a book — it may be another dream. This is for you, too.) Because I want to be inspired by you.
I want to learn what you have to teach, laugh with you, cry with you, be expanded by your experience, flag the pages that I love the most and underline my favorite passages.
And it’s not just me — the whole world wants you — wants your storyline, exactly and precisely as it is lived and authored by you.
So, here, in order to inspire you to quit holding out on us any longer, is my story of how I took a wild idea, and turned it into a New York Times bestseller.
And believe me, if I can do it, anyone can do it.
This means you.
Right here, right now.
In the beginning, from the time I was a girl, I kept a journal.
Keeping a journal is probably the best preparation that I can think of for writing a book. When you journal, it gets your writer muscles flexing, and it allows you to find your way on the page with an ever-expanding sense of who you are. You can practice how you make the words spin and dance to express whatever it is that you want to say.
The next step would be to notice your passion, and let your passion guide you.
Pour your heart and soul into whatever lights and ignites you. Live fully, with great abandon. Fly in the direction of whatever it is that lights you up. Even if it seems as if it has nothing to do with writing. Passion begets passion. The more passionately you are living, the more passion and enthusiasm will end up on the page. Maya Angelou was a fry cook, sex worker, streetcar conductor, dancer, singer and journalist before she tried her hand at writing. She lived.
My passion for educating women led to my first book. I was passionately and enthusiastically teaching classes in my living room for many years, when the New York Times sent a reporter to sit in on one of my classes. That moment changed my life and got me my first book deal.
While it may seem that there’s a scarcity of book deals, in my experience, the book industry has endless use for books. They need you as much as you need them. If it is your desire to write, and you keep that flame lit in your life — not with doubt, but, rather, with turned on enthusiasm — then you are already actually opening the channel for that book deal to find its way to you. This probably won’t come up in an MFA program but I believe it, I know it.
The prospect of writing a book, when I had never written one in my life, was utterly daunting.
And the first thing I did was panic.
I had no time to write. My daughter was a toddler. I was busy teaching my pussy classes. But I wanted this so much. So, I went to a book signing of another author, Melissa Bank, who wrote The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing. She described staying late at the office to use their computer and write her manuscript at night. I raised my hand and told her I was a busy mom and a teacher and not yet a writer and I asked her how the hell she did it — with a full-time job and all. She looked me square in the eye and said, “You just do it.” I replied, “Got it. Thanks.” And I left the lecture to head home and just do it.
Until then, I had no idea that my entire writing career would be about one thing: creating the time and space to write, every single day, no matter what.
For me, the time I set aside was the morning. I would wake up at 6 a.m. and head to the cafe around the corner. In those days I had to be pretty tight with money so I brought my own coffee and bought a muffin, which I ate slowly over the three hours I gave myself each day, before my work day began.
My first book sold really really well. As did book two and three. I made it to several bestseller lists, but never the New York Times list, which had been a dream of mine. Until book four, Pussy: A Reclamation. Ten years after the book before.
I had been itching to write that book for so long. In fact, Pussy was the book that I had always wanted to write. But life took over. I got divorced, had to completely dismantle and reconstruct my company from the ground up, raise a daughter on my own, and so many other things.
But by this point, I was becoming even more aware of the cyclical nature of the feminine.
There are seasons to everything, and I could feel that this book was not quite ready to be written, no matter how much I wanted to push it out. So, I went back to journalling. And gently allowed my soul to unwind, feel, heal, regroup, and recharge without any pressure for an outcome.
Writing requires holding inner space for both the masculine and the feminine.
We are courting the muse, giving her a chance to appear, but not forcing her to do anything she does not want to do. The masculine part of my nature holds the frame: I wake early, light the candle, make my coffee, take my place on the couch, hit deadlines. Schedule and show up. Then, I invite my creative feminine to awaken, to unfurl, to reveal herself. She is in charge. But I do not press her for an outcome. I invite her to come get me. To give me a sign that it’s time.
After writing several unusable versions of the book over many years, I got my sign.
I felt it. My business was stabilized. My daughter was in high school. I had more bandwidth. And a fellow author buddy of mine, Kris Carr, told me about a great editor that she had worked with, Kelly Notaras. She thought we would hit it off. And when I met Kelly, I knew immediately she was the one. I love to work with an editor. My creative brain can be kind of all over the place, spewing way too much genius for my own good. And, I enjoy collaboration — so I chose an editor who was pussy-friendly and knew her structure (a dance of masculine and feminine). Together, we agreed on the outline, and then I would get my writing assignment for the week. Kelly held the frame while I created in feminine flow, which made everything much more fun and organized.
Then, of course, there was the problem with the title.
I was so terrified to put Pussy on the front cover of my book. I ran over to visit my pal, Marie Forleo, confiding in her about my dilemma. Could I give this book the outrageous title she deserved? She decided to give me a muscle test (and then another, and another) to help me discern my truth. Sisters, the test kept coming up pussy-positive! I can remember shrieking in her living room and hiding my head under the pillows of her couch. Marie encouraged me and reminded me that fortune favors the bold.
As you can see, good, solid girlfriends are an essential part of my storyline.
I think it is so much easier to be courageous and push yourself beyond your own boundaries when you have a team of sisters supporting you, and one another. I encourage you to call in a group of friends who are on similar paths. Women who listen to their own desires and their passions. Women who want to take bold steps. Women who are turned on and tuned in. Together, we can all overcome whatever is holding us back and accomplish miracles.
Do not forget the power of ritual and beauty.
After the book was published, the next step was finding readers. I have an amazing team who strategized a plan for getting the word out. I gave interviews. We wrote emails and Facebook ads. There was A LOT of hard work that I don’t want to overlook. And I know magic was at play as much as strategy. I don’t think Pussy would have become a New York Times bestseller if it weren’t for the power of ritual.
I created a huge desire board of everything I wanted for the book. Jaq Belcher, a grad of Mastery and an artist and a fellow sorceress friend of mine, created a piece of art in honor of the book, which sits inside the front cover. She created a white-on-white piece such that each cut in that work was a seed with which I filled with my desire for the book to inspire millions of women.
The cover art was created by Susan Lee, a sensitive designer and also a Mastery grad, who used the sacred geometric symbol for the Flower of Life to represent the cycle of creation, all life and consciousness arising from one source, pussy.
Prior to publication, I gathered a circle of sisters around me to perform a ritual celebration of gratitude and all of our desires for the book, and all our desires for women in the world. I knew that the process of the creation of this book was a collaboration between me, and divine forces which are way bigger than me. So it was necessary to include ritual and sisterhood to express appreciation.
Whatever it is you dream of creating, however you wish to express your unique story, whether it’s a book or something so different, I hope you’ll “just do it.” And I know it will begin to feel more possible when you surround yourself with women who want it for you, when you show up for it consistently, when you are more bold than you think you can be, and when you honor it with beauty and with ritual. And if it’s a book you want to write, when you journal. Like, starting right now. Because I want to read it.
Regena Thomashauer, aka “Mama Gena”
The School of Womanly Arts
Regena is a feminist icon, a teacher, a speaker, a mother, a best-selling author, and creatrix and CEO of The School of Womanly Arts.
p.s. If you’re reading Pussy in paperback, I’m thrilled! And I’d love a selfie with your copy of the book on Instagram, tagging me @mamagena and using hashtags #amreading #paperbackpussy so we can all see each other and where in the world we’re reading.
PUSSY: A RECLAMATION
The New York Times Bestseller is now available in paperback!
If you’ve been waiting for the paperback, it is now waiting for you! Support your local book store or order online. Either way, when you buy your copy, I’d love to give you a gift of thanks.GET THE GIFT